By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY – Relatives of journalists killed in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions supported the call for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration to work faster towards the achievement of justice especially for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.
The massacre on November 23, 2009 claimed the lives of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists and media workers.
“The families of the victims should not lose hope. [We should] Pray and hope for justice,” said a relative of journalist Rey Pedronio who was killed in 1999 in this city by members of a paramilitary group Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA).
In an SMS message, she urged the government to double its efforts to help facilitate justice for the victims. “I join you in your fight for justice through prayers,” she told Northern Dispatch in a text message.
In Ilocos Norte, a relative of radio anchorman Lito Agustin expressed disgust over the pace of the cases against the accused of the Ampatuan massacre.
“There is no development on the cases filed against the accused in the massacre as justice [system] in the Philippines has failed),” the nephew of Agustin who witnessed the killing said in an interview.
Agustin and his nephew were riding on their motorcycle on their way home from the radio station dzJC when they were shot at by gunmen on a motorcycle riding in tandem on June 16, 2010 in Laoag City. Agustin died in the ambush but his nephew survived to tell the story and identified the culprits.
Agustin’s nephew said that the justice system in the country failed to work on the cases of journalists killed. In the case of his uncle, the suspects remain unpunished. He said an influential politician is perceived to be the mastermind on the death of Agustin.
2 journalists killed in Cordillera under Aquino
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines local chapter here documented two journalists killed in the Cordillera region under the administration of Aquino.
Jose Daguio of Tabuk, Kalinga was killed on July 3, 2010 while Cirilo Gallardo of dwWM was killed on January 31 this year.
Cordillera police said that some of the suspects in the two cases were arrested but cases are still pending in court.
Besides Agustin and Pedronio, the NUJP Baguio-Benguet chapter said other journalists killed in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions are: Roger Mariano, an announcer of the DzJC, was ambushed in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte on July, 31, 2004; Stephen Omaois, a reporter of the Guru Press, was brutally killed in Tabuk, Kalinga on November 26, 2004; Rogelio Villafuerte, a technician of DzEQ in Baguio City was shot to death by an alleged policeman on January 26, 2005; Romy Sanchez, a radio announcer in La Union and the desk head of Northern Dispatch in the Ilocos region was killed in broad day light in Baguio City on March 9, 2005; and, Andres Acosta, an announcer of DzJC, was attacked by a knife-wielding man in Ilocos on December 21, 2006;
The NUJP chapter lamented that justice has eluded the victims in these cases.
Members of the NUJP and other groups commemorated the second anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre with a torch parade down the city’s Session Road.
A minute of silence was offered in remembrance of the victims in a program at the Igorot Park.
The activity was joined by the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC), Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), Community Health Education Services and Trainings in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore), Gabriela, Baguio Writers Group (BWG), Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists (PNEJ), Asia Pacific Individual Youth Network (APIN), Cordillera Youth Center, National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL), student groups from the University of Baguio, University of the Philippines Baguio, Saint Louis University, University of the Cordillera, and Easter College. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by